Feds at IRS, Social Security, TSA face dangerous heat…

Regardless of what happens today, the public image of feds is likely to sink. Taxpayers will initially blame politicians, maybe even punish some at the ballot box. But if things get bad because of enforced furloughs and service cutbacks, the people who take the direct heat will be rank- and-file workers at IRS centers, Social Security Offices, VA hospitals and TSA airport screeners. They could be dealing with some very dangerous, hostile customers.

Today is D (as in dumb) Day. At least three things could happen:

  1. Congress and the White House could (even after it begins) postpone or cancel sequestration. This would confirm that it was all a political dance. Republicans will blame the White House for inventing sequestration. Democrats will blame conservative House Republicans for pushing it.
  2. Sequestration could happen, and the consequences turn out to be dire. People will be denied services, airlines will be delayed or grounded, the borders will become more porous. The stock market could take a nose dive, unemployment would go up and the recession-recovery gains could be wiped out. Also, there could be an incident, weather or natural-disaster accident that, critics would argue, wouldn’t have happened if Uncle Sam hadn’t been taking the day off.
  3. Sequestration could happen, and nothing much will happen. It might inconvenience some people, but for the most part nobody would notice. Wall Street would carry on, Europe would fold. Nothing! That would be a real PR black-eye for the government and proof positive for critics of big government that it really is too big. Way too big.

There may be a fourth option. Maybe even a fifth outcome. If you have one, bring it on. This is new ground for most of us, even the self- anointed experts. And because it is so complicated — either very stupid and destructive or fiendishly clever — your take on it is as good as anyone’s, maybe better. Meantime, a few comments from readers

Cindy in Kentucky says


“… if it happens it could be the best thing to occur. Our country needs a wake up call. They also have to remember that it takes many people to keep things going not only on the government side but in the private side also. It takes people to choose to get off there bottoms (the word I am not thinking) and have respect for themselves and those around them. Waiting for a handout does not cut it! Our country can do better! ”

Jerry with the Defense Department says:

What will happen on March 1, 2013? In a word, nothing. Why? The cuts are to take place over 7 months; not one day. How about furloughs? Again, nothing. Why? Have to give Congress 45 days’ notice. SecDef did that for DoD on February 20th. 45 days later would be April 6th. And, federal employees have to be given 30 days’ notice. I expect to see mine the second or third week of March. So no furloughs until mid-April. By April 30th, federal employees will see a grand total, per employee of two or three furlough days. I am NOT saying no significant impact. But asking at what point where there be and for which agencies and programs?

Question: does March 1, 2013 mark a crisis if nothing of substance takes place?”


Compiled by Jack Moore

Sesame Street character Cookie Monster revealed in a 2004 episode that before he started eating cookies and earned his famous moniker, he went by the name Sid.


OMB directs agencies to stop bonuses, hiring under sequestration
Danny Werfel, OMB’s controller, told agency leaders to place “increased scrutiny” around several personnel issues, including new hires, discretionary bonuses, and training.

SSA, IRS take different paths on sequestration furloughs
The Internal Revenue Service and the Social Security Administration – two of the largest federal agencies with very public missions – are taking divergent paths when it comes to dealing with the automatic, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration.

Low morale? You’re not alone, new federal survey shows
Sequestration? Furloughs? Pay freeze? Fed bashing? Poor leadership? The list of morale killers goes on and on. A new Federal News Radio survey on employee morale and leadership – part of our special report, Top Leaders in Federal Service – shows just how bad people are feeling in the federal workforce.